Pageant Tips from Joanna Larson

Posted by Kimberly Harris on Saturday, March 31, 2012 Under: Workshops
Joanna Larson a past Miss UVU Queen stopped by  out workshop last week to give everyone tips on how to prepare for the pageant. See below


Preparing for each phase of competition car

 Top Ten Things Judges Remember


  1. Your smile.

  2. Your “theme.”

  3. Specific answers to interview questions. Gimmicks.

  4. Your sincerity.

  5. Your eye contact.

  6. Your salesmanship.

  7. Your body.

  8. Your platform issue.

  9. The strength of your talent.

  10.  Your picture and bio sheet.



  1. Your smile.


You have to “BEAM.” Use teeth whiteners. Use a lip liner!!  Vaseline on your teeth helps you smile when you are nervous and your mouth dries up. Flash that smile as you turn around on stage, wink to a judge if you want. You ARE captivating, and you have to…light up. A captivating and light laugh that accompanies your smile—one that makes others smile, goes a very long way, too.


  1. Your “theme.”


Be consistent. Look at yourself as a total marketing effort. Does your talent match your bio, match your interview style, match your wardrobe? The signs you have out around the building that the judges may see as they walk by, or come in? You need to be selling yourself as if you are a consistent BRAND. Books on marketing and branding may come in handy to read over. Go to Barnes and Noble and spend an evening reading about how to create a BRAND. The brand in this case is yourself. A great book for personal marketing, also, is “Never Eat Alone.”  Even the colors of your gown and swimming suit, might match. As a contestant one year I had a black and white talent dress, a black and white suit and a white evening gown. I played the classical flute and was working on my master’s degree; mine was an image of polish. What is the image you are projecting? This consistency will help you be remembered BY the judges, and also to build confidence inside you, yourself.


  1. Specific answers to interview questions. Gimmicks.


You need to be prepared to answer questions regarding anything on your resume. Also, include a few things on your resume that are eye-catching, that the judges will want to ask you about, and by which they will remember you. If you are a champion whistler, say so, and be prepared to catch them off guard by confidently whistling a line of your talent piece! If you have a unique ability to do something, include it. Gimmicks catch attention and they work. Tell the judges something about you or your talent to look out for that night of the competition. The interview is the first key to success. This is where you will charm and impress the judges with your intelligence, articulateness and cleverness.


  1. Your sincerity.


Above all, you must be yourself. After all of the preparation and “aiming” and acting “as if,” when it comes to the moment of truth: you have either become it, or you have not. People feel cognitive dissonance, they feel that something isn’t right, when you are not truthful or if you are making things up. Never do it. Practice, as a principal of your life, always being sincere and honest. Sincerity is easier when you truly care about others. So think of reasons to truly be concerned, about the judges, about the issues they are bringing up. Be picturing in your mind the importance and effects of what they are telling you, and the sincerity will come, by itself. There is no substitute for caring.


  1. Your eye contact.


You must make it. With each one of the judges. Hold each one’s gaze for three seconds during the interview, and also occasionally while on stage. You will look to one side of the panel, then the other, then back to the other side, etc, until you have looked and maintained eye contact with everyone. If you are really nervous, you can actually stare BETWEEN the judges, looking at eye level, and it will seem as if you are looking and talking to them. Also, you may have heard that staring at people’s foreheads works as well. If you must, do it. But practice to the point that you begin to feel the satisfaction that comes from connecting with the judges through their eyes. Their eyes will tell you if they are understanding what you are saying. They will tell you whether to keep explaining something, or to stop. Connection and eye contact is absolutely crucial. Speak WITH your audience, not AT them. Watching their eyes and their responses with help you to do this.


  1. Your salesmanship.


You must be an entertainer. All that you do, must sell YOU as the winning brand. You must exude confidence, assurance, and not too much cockiness or arrogance. That is the careful balance you must create. How do you do this? By connecting with your audience through their eye contact while maintaining a natural enthusiasm. Enthusiasm and energy SELL.  A Los Angeles woman who is a make-up artist for the stars and was one of Chanel’s top sales representatives, explained it like this, “You need to act like it’s your wedding day!!!”  Dale Carnegie’s book: “Ways to Win Friends and Influence People” is also must read.


7.      Your body.


You must be in tip top shape. Second to your smile and face, your figure matters the most. Is your behind high and lifted, do you have tone and shape? Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Follow a strict exercise regime, let go of water weight before the event. Evaluate yourself critically. Lift weights, do cardio, lengthen out and stretch. It is better to be too small then not small enough. I am never an advocate of unhealthy behaviors, and am in fact a hearty proponent that women who restrict themselves too much in regards to food also end up restricting too many other aspects of themselves. But this is a COMPETITION. Do it. Be as thin, as fit, as you can. You will later look back and be proud of yourself for it.


  1. Your platform issue.


Choose an issue that has personal meaning for you and that shows connection to your life as best you can. Perhaps it will match up with your education, your job, a family issue, or a personal issue. Then go for it. Look at examples of previous pageant girls to see what types of work they have done. What organization would you like to raise money for and represent? How can you contribute? Do you want to start something of your own, or do you want to volunteer for and promote a larger effort? Choose something you feel most strongly about, for this can become the cause of your lifetime. The more personal your choice, the more true it will ring to the judges.


  1. The strength of your talent.

There is no faking it. When it comes to the big stage, big talent wins out. A flashy piece, a show stopper, presented with your best salesmanship, will help you take the title hands down. And to develop true talent, it takes time. Build on something you are already good or practiced at. If you have no entertaining talent you have developed, decide what you would like to be good at, contact an expert in that area, and start practicing. There is no better time than today, and sometimes one piece worked on again and again can become your show piece, as you continue to become more fluent at what you do. You have to perform with boldness and confidence; you have to enjoy entertaining the audience. Practice the hardest parts the most, until they become the easiest. (In her book…) Sharlene Wells comments that the part on her harp solo that was the most difficult, she practiced so thoroughly that she could look at the audience during it and practically wink.


  1.  Your picture and bio sheet.


There is no substitute for having a great picture. The judges will see it even when you are not physically in front of their eyes. They will look at it in their hotel rooms before they meet the contestants; they will look at it when they deciding who they think should be the winner. It needs to look like YOU, but it needs to be a great YOU. Search the internet for a pageant-picture taker in your area. Or, talk to a local photographer from a college. There are a few touch ups they can perform to make your eyes a little brighter and your teeth seem even whiter. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but you do need a photographer who will let you practice many poses until you both figure out your best angles and what works. Black and white prints can be very flattering. Take lots of pictures, experiment, and include the best on high quality paper with a white edging, for your bio. Make sure your bio sheet is free from typographical errors. It needs to be clean and…perfect.


Insider Tips


**Study the bios of the judges. Do your homework and you can include topics that they have experience with, in your interview.

**Can you determine who the influencer is, in the group? Often one or two judges will have sway over the others. It isn’t supposed to be this way, but it is. Figure it out—who takes the lead, who do the others watch? Make eye contact with this person when you walk.

**Do something memorable doing your interview. Whistle a line from your talent piece. Make a funny face.

**Have an amazing bio. Enough said. Live your life in preparation with awareness of what comes next.

**Your dresses and outfits need to be organized perfectly so that when competition time comes you can be worrying about other things.

**The production numbers don’t matter. What does is if you smile and are authentic. You must look like you are having fun

** After all of the preparation, relax, let go, and appear as if it comes to you naturally. Effortless. As CZ Guest would say, “Make it look easy and make it look good.”


Things you SHOULD do…


The pageant system demands that girls figure out where they stand on difficult issues. Even systems aside from the Miss America, where a platform issue must be selected, will include an interview where you will be grilled on your opinions and current events. Knowing who you are and being clear on where you stand is critical. You also must be in tip top physical shape. Here are a few things you SHOULD be doing, right now, to be prepared.


  • Prepare 3x5 cards for each section of the competition (later)

  • Watch interview tapes and talk shows

  • Get opinions from everyone but make up your own mind

  • Flip through magazines to determine what your own style is. Clip pictures of designs, dresses, and ideas that you like

  • Be disciplined in the use of your time

  • Learn how to tell people no (establishing boundaries)

  • Learn how to be kind while telling people no

  • Write down your goals

  • Follow the twelve steps from SUCCESS magazine

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